“Thai Elephant Pants” Popularity Hits Fever Pitch, Orders Overflow for Patterns Showcasing Local Identities

“Thai Elephant Pants” are lightweight and billowy pants with various elephant designs and patterns, which have exploded in popularity among foreign tourists. They play an essential role in promoting Thailand’s soft power.

Their popularity has led to new and unique designs depicting the different regions of Thailand, helping bolster the local economy and tourism. “The Plaplatootoo” pants captured the interest among netizens, garnering the highest engagement. Not far behind are the “capybara pants”, which enjoyed massive pre-orders due to its cute design. The “Korat Cat pants” have also become an in-game fashion item, thanks to the game “Free Fire”.

“Thai Elephant pants” is a must-buy fashion item among foreign tourists visiting Thailand. Its popularity has captured the interest of the local population, and many Thais are seen wearing these comfortable pants as well.

It is considered one of the 5Fs (Food, Festival, Film, Fight, Fashion) products of Thailand’s Soft Power, where the Thai government and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) actively promote the “Soft Power” policy to boost tourism and stimulate the country’s economy.

Dataxet Limited gathered data from January 15 to February 29, 2024, using the DXT360 platform as a social listening tool to analyze the market impact of elephant pants. The data revealed that elephant pants generated 846,600 buzzes (buzz= mentions + engagements).

From Elephant Pants to Pants Depicting Unique Thai Provincial Identities

The red-hot popularity of elephant pants, especially among tourists, even caught the attention of a MotoGP racer who wore them, turning into a viral sensation.

This generated tremendous buzz for elephant pants and prompted government agencies, tourism authorities, and local businesses in each province to collectively promote them as a soft power commodity.

This effort aims to boost tourism and the economy within communities. Various regions had the creative idea of incorporating distinctive local identities onto the pants, resulting in unique patterns and designs instead of the traditional elephant motif. These region-specific patterns have transformed the pants into symbolic attire representing each locality or province. Some patterns have received robust positive response, such as the pre-order launch of the “capybara pants” from Khao Kheow Open Zoo, where the initial batch sold out within three minutes

Top 5 pant designs with the most buzz on social media

1) Plaplatootoo pants: 72,153 buzzes

(buzz = mentions + engagements)

The Plaplatootoo (elephant + fish) pant design, originating from Samut Songkhram province, won the best Thai character design under the Change by CEA (Creative Economy Agency) project in 2021. The pants have a distinct design and are made from high-quality Italian silk for comfort. They feature side pockets, a waist drawstring, and culottes. In addition to these features, the design creator expresses confidence that there is no need to worry about imitation, emphasizing that genuine products are exclusively produced in the local region.

2) Capybara pants: 55,435 buzzes

The Khao Kheow Open Zoo became a major talking point when it announced the launch of ‘capybara pants’ to celebrate the zoo’s 70th anniversary. The cute design featuring much-adored capybara giant rodents on the ‘capybara pants’ made a massive splash on social media. The website was inundated with orders to the point that it sold out in three minutes.

3) Korat cat pants: 51,297 buzzes

The ‘Korat Cat pants‘ have become a viral sensation in their own right after winning the best design at the ‘Mamu Ya Korat’ event, organized by the Korat Chamber of Commerce and the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Administrative Organization. The Korat Cat is considered the symbolic animal of the province. Various sectors have made efforts to promote the ‘Korat Cat pants’ as a fashionable item in ‘Free Fire,’ an online game played at a competitive e-sport level.

4) Fiddler crab pants: 29,736 buzzes

The province of Samut Sakhon has joined the trend of animal-themed pants with the ‘fiddler crab pants’ design. This design reflects the province’s natural beauty, featuring giant fiddler crabs, mangrove forests, daisies, auspicious numbers, and wave patterns. Italian silk is used for its flexibility and durability, distinguishing it from the fabric typically used for other Thai elephant pants.

5) Giant gourami pants: 17,038 buzzes

The ‘giant gourami pants‘ were designed by the owners of the ‘Jong Rak’ coffee shop in Uthai Thani province. The design incorporates the province’s emblem into the pattern of the pants, featuring the giant gourami. The word ‘UTHAI’ is written within the fish. The pattern includes the yellow cotton flower, the Sakae Krang River, and the staircase of the Wat Sangkat Rattanakiri landmark. The popularity of the Pla Raad pants continues to rise since their introduction, selling out quickly due to high demand. There has been a steady stream of pre-orders, causing production to struggle to keep up with the demand.

In addition to the top 5 most popular pant designs promoting Thailand’s soft power, there are also unique designs representing different provinces in Thailand, including the Wualan pants from Petchaburi, Dinosaur pants from Khon Kaen, Fighting cock pants from Phitsanulok, and Nonthaburian pants from Nonthaburi. Furthermore, other peculiar designs can also be found on these light, baggy pants, such as comic gags or characters from popular children’s shows like Mask Rider.”

A trend is also on the rise where elephant patterns have been incorporated into various products. For example, garment factories like Chinrada Garment in Chiang Mai have taken elephant patterns and applied them to create designs for shirts, bags, and various other products for their shop.

What Next for the Elephant Pants Trend?

Anyone familiar with the game ‘Free Fire,’ developed by Garena, probably knows that the ‘Korat Cat pants’ were licensed and featured in the game as a fashion item. This event exemplifies the widespread popularity of elephant pants, prompting numerous entrepreneurs to consider them as a potential career opportunity or an additional income source for their businesses.

Consequently, there are now clothing stores offering elephant pants with varying prices and qualities. For instance, Chanthaburi Original presents rabbit-patterned pants paired with durian, a collaboration with the Chanthaburi Provincial Chamber of Commerce. Greyhound Original has raised the standard of Thai elephant pants, emphasizing improvements in both quality and price.

Furthermore, the government continues to actively promote Thailand’s soft power through initiatives like the Thailand Soft Power X Guinness World Records Challenge. Led by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), this initiative showcases Thailand’s 5Fs of Soft Power. One of the activities within this project involves attempting to set the record for the most elephant pants worn in one minute.

Social Media Chatter on Thai Elephant Pants

According to the overall consumer sentiment on Thai elephant pants, many people applaud the idea of creating unique designs that depict the identities of different provinces and printing them on the pants.

Some suggested that each province should create its unique pant design. However, some consumers express concerns about the pants’ thin fabric, which can easily rip and may be see-through in direct sunlight.

The Thai elephants also trended in China, resulting in cheaper “Made in China” elephant pants flooding the market in Thailand. This compelled Thai operators to adapt and improve the quality of elephant pants.

This has also prompted efforts to create more imaginative and unique patterns as well as filing intellectual property rights to protect the unique patterns of Thai-designed elephant pants as these pants have been sold to tourists visiting Thailand as souvenirs for more than 10 years.

The data used for this insight analysis were aggregated from the DXT360 platform, a social listening tool by dataxet:infoquest. The data was collected from January 15 to February 29, 2024.

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By Kuntida Kawinwit, Thanawath Wongjaroenyos

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